Through the Looms…
Handloom weaving is an intricate art that requires immense patience, passion, creativity and attention to detail.
Through this photoblog, we take you through the looms of the silk capital of Kanchipuram (in Tamilnadu) and capture the painstaking efforts that go behind this wonderful craft form.
- The all-important loom gets prepped for the journey ahead. It starts with the winding of yarn on to a warp beam. It takes about two days to complete the warping of 10,000 threads on the loom.
- Zari yarns are drawn from the wooden beam to the loom for the process of warping. The weaver doesn’t take his eyes off the beam and loom, even for a second!
- Warp beam: Warp yarns are rolled on to an iron beam and positioned at the back of the loom.
- Warping of zari threads: This involves joining the gold zari thread with the silk thread by twisting them together.
- Preparing the weft yarns: First, the weft silk hank is spread onto a wooden stand. Then the weaver winds the yarn on a stick.
- This is the pit loom in which the saree you adore is woven. The four posters of the loom are sunk into the floor facing a pit, in which the pedals hang.
- A lot of leg work: Loom treadles are located at the bottom of the loom. They are designed for the up-and-down movement of the heddles. The heddle, which is a looped cord or wire, is an integral part of the loom. It separates the warp yarns so that the weft thread can pass through. When the weaver presses the treadle, the weft thread moves through the width of the warp yarns.
- Did you know that a weaver uses his legs 17,920 times to weave one saree?
- The warp threads break frequently while weaving. So, the weaver has to join the yarn each time it breaks. This is no mean feat, as the weaver cannot afford to lose his patience.
- Weaving a Kanjeevaram saree, from start to finish, sometimes takes three to four weeks. It sure is a labour-intensive process!
- Kanchipuram has more than 20,000 looms and produces more than five lakh sarees a year. Three to four weavers work in each loom. Some handloom varieties require at least six workers for a single saree.
- As the weaving progresses, the saree is rolled on the front wooden beam of the loom.
- Weaving a complex tapestry: Intricate designs take shape on the body, border and pallu of the saree through the jacquard technique.
- Nothing can beat the magic of handspun fabric! Here you see silk yarn being spun in pirns (spools) with the help of a hand spinning charkha. Truly charming, isn’t it?
- The weaver works with total focus and commitment. During a weaving career spanning 30 years, a weaver uses his limbs 18,360,000 times to weave about 1,000 sarees.